Mastitis infection status of two small herds located at the Dairy Cattle Research Unit of Massey University was assessed. Single quarter milk samples from 45 cows under organic production (first and second year of organic certification) and 50 cows under a conventional system were taken on four occasions: mid lactation (these samples were frozen); prior to the last milking before dry-off (season 2003/2004); before the first milking after calving and 14 days post calving (season 2004/2005). Milk samples were cultured for bacterial analysis. Somatic cell counts (SCC) from monthly herd tests, and clinical mastitis cases were recorded and analyzed. The percentages of quarters with positive bacterial growth, and SCC, were generally higher in the organic herd, but differences were only significant for Staphylococcus aureus in all four sample periods, and for Streptococcus spp. 14 days post calving. The results suggest that in organic herds Staphylococcus aureus infections could become an important concern, because of constraints on the use of antibiotic treatments. Effective prevention of infections by this organism will be essential, in order to prevent high culling rates. KEYWORDS: mastitis; organic dairy; New Zealand.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 148-152, 2005
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